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Rosie's Blog

What is Your Valentines Day Tradition?

Valentines Day Italian Style

If you’re like most of our customers, your Valentines day tradition consists of running around at the last minute for a card or gift so you aren’t empty handed when your spouse springs one on you. Or wearing out your dialing fingers trying to get a reservation that morning just to be squeezed into the 10:00 PM seating at at Gustav’s Borscht Emporium…

If you were hoping to take some inspiration from the origin of Valentines day, well sadly that is open to some debate. Evidence suggests that the day originated in in the Roman Empire as a holiday that celebrated the Queen of Roman gods and goddesses. The ancient Romans also considered queen Juno to be the goddess of Women and Marriage.

But another legend about the origin of Valentine’s Day refers to St. Valentine, a priest who lived in the first century AD. Legend has it that he was executed on February 14th in approximately 270 AD for illegally marrying lovers during wartime. This was against the wishes of Emperor Claudius II who much preferred his young men to learn how to throw a spear accurately and focus all their energies on war and conquest. Once these secret marriages were discovered, St Valentine had his romantic head chopped off on the day that bears his name, and was later named a saint by Pope Gelasius.

So What do they Do In Italy?

Surprisingly it is America that has exported many of its valentine traditions to Italy, not vice versa. Italians give each other flowers, have romantic dinners and exchange chocolates, just like here.

VeronaInLoveMost Italians consider Florence and Venice are to be two of the most romantic places in Italy. Verona, the city of Romeo and Juliet, celebrates Valentine’s Day with four-days of events designated “Verona in Love.” There is a contest for the most beautiful letter written to Juliet. In the center of Piazza dei Signori a giant red heart is painted on the street and illuminated heart-shaped lanterns are featured throughout the city. Many of the local hotels offer deals and the restaurants in Verona feature specially priced menus, just like Rosie’s!

Lucchetti dell’Amore (The Locks of Love)

locks-of-loveAnother recent tradition has to do with the phenomena of putting locks on bridges, symbolizing a couples enduring and undying affection for each other. The tradition of locking padlocks to bridges, railings and lamp posts began in Italy a little more than four years ago after the release of the best-selling book “Ho voglio di te” (I want you) by the Italian author Federico Moccia. A popular movie with the same name followed starring Riccardo Scamarcio and Laura Chiatti.

In the story young lovers tie a chain and a padlock around a lamppost on the north side of Rome’s ponte Milvio and inscribes their names on it, lock it and throw the key into the Tiber River below. Talk about water pollution!

Authorities agree: In Florence police removed more than 5000 locks from the Ponte Vecchio where it is a crime to attach these locks. Despite this they continue to appear anywhere and everywhere they can be attached. The phenomenon has spread to Turin, Bologna, Palermo and even into other European countries.

Our advice is simple: Whether you want to put a heart shaped lock at the top of Everest, or just want a nice meal at a local restaurant that knows how to treat lovers… plan ahead. It’s more romantic to know you spent time and energy preparing, than seeming like your v-day was an afterthought. And trust me, your partner will always know what bucket you fall into!

Frasi d’amore

As our long time customers already know, Rosie’s always makes a fuss at the restaurant over Valentine’s Day.  Valentine’s day Italian Style always consists of a special menu, romantic music, and wine.

Romantic Italian RestaurantBut folks I’m here to tell you that if you want to celebrate Valentine’s day with Italian style you have to speak it, as well as eat it.

So here are some of the “frasi d’amore” that you can try out on your honey.  They may have no idea what you are saying but they’ll love the sound of it!

First of all for you single guys, the standard pick up lines sound way better in Italian.   Tell here “Dove sei stato per tutta la mia vita?”  (Where Have you been all my life?)   If that doesn’t get a smile well you’re really barking up the wrong tree.

As things progress you can tell him/her “Tue se quello/a che stavo aspettando” (“You are the one I have been waiting for”).   Then say “Sei come l’acqua nel deserto” (You are like water in the desert).   When you are done you partner should be melted into a large puddle on the floor.  If not, work on your accent.

Lovers always say “Ti amo” but for friends and family the proper phrase is “Ti voglio bene”.  But just saying “I love you” gets old so try “Ti amero finche ho vita”  (I will love you while I still have life) or for the really deep and mind blowing types try “Sei la mia anima gemella”  (You are my Soul-mate)

Or you can keep it straightforward and tell them “Sei la mia vita” (you are my life) or Sei sempre nel mio cuore” (You are always in my heart)

I hope you are inspired to try out a few frasi d’amore on your next visit to Rosie’s.  Feel free to ask me if you want any pronunciation tips, though frankly we’re Sicilian so we’ll probably ruin you with all our dialect, but you’ll get the idea.  Anyway that’s our Italian lesson for today and just remember that any way you say it, may love in some language find you this Valentine’s Day!

The 5 Best Italian Food Gifts for Christmas.

Many of my customers are scratching their heads for that last minute Italian food themed Christmas gift. I get a lot of questions about “What is the best place to get Mozzarella?” What kind of Olive Oil do we use, what type of Balsamic, etc… In the spirit of the season I thought I’d give you all a few ideas for gifts this holiday. Listen to me and maybe you won’t have to go to the mall Christmas Eve…

5. La Cucina Italiana Magazine Subscription
There are plenty of food and recipe magazines out there, but La Cucina Italiana is pretty goodt. This beautiful magazine presents authentic recipes from all around Italy, from quick weeknight meals to elaborate feasts for holiday gatherings. Learn about the cheeses and wines of Italy, visit cities small and large, hear stories from Italian farmers and artisan food producers and much more. Every issue is like a quick trip to Italy for the food lover!

4. Herb Infused Olive Oil.
This is one of those things that you see in gourmet stores but nobody ever buys for themselves. In fact a high quality virgin olive oil infused with rosemary, or fresh thyme can really change the character of a dish or a salad dressing. Whoever you give it to will have fun experimenting.

3. Panettone
Of Italy’s many types of Christmas Cakes, panettone the most famous. Originally from Milan, it’s studded with raisins and candied fruit peels. Although it’s best to get it fresh from a local baker, you can also get it online if you have to.

2. Baci Chocolates
These are so well-known in Italy, “Baci” is a common gelato flavor. And no wonder: They’re a blend of milk chocolate and ground hazelnutes (dubbed gianduia), crowned with a hazelnut and covered in dark chocolate. In other words… I’m not sure there’s a chocolate lover in the world who wouldn’t want to see this box under their tree. Unless they were allergic to nuts.

And the number one gift no home should be without this Christmas?

1. A ROSIE’S GIFT CERTIFICATE!

Really, is there anything better to say “We love you!” (-:

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Lady Gaga Has an Italian Restaurant?

Maybe I’m a little slow but I just read how earlier this year Lady Gaga opened an Italian restaurant in New York City for her parents.   Its called “Joanne” which is apparently her middle name.   The chef is the former personal Chef for Oprah, so I guess there was a big buzz around the opening, celebrities and long lines. ..   Lady Gaga is Italian so I guess this was a nice thing to do for mom and dad after making a gazillion dollars in the music industry…

Sadly, things didn’t go so well…

A New York Post critic showed up on opening night.   He titled his review the next day “You’ll GAG on the food at GAGA’s”.   He went on to say that the calamari salad was the worst he’d eaten in his entire career as a critic, and that the orechiette with shellfish “recalled the flaccid pasta commonly doled out along Long Island’s Jericho Turnpike, or at 35,000 feet”.   Michael Kaminer, at the New York Daily News, called the Italian spot, ‘an incomprehensible imitation of a restaurant.’    He went on to say that “The Expresso  (yes they spelled it with an x) … is more like concentrated Sanka, but you’ll need it to avoid choking on a tiramisu cake ($14) whose desiccated base holds gelatinous cream tasting vaguely of plastic.’

To make matters worse, Lady Gaga gained 25 pounds after the restaurant opened and blamed it totally on her father’s cooking.   That’s loyalty!

You can’t help but laugh at what some of these reviewers come up with, and I guess they are pretty overpriced but I do feel bad for them.   Not everyone who can cook can run a restaurant kitchen, and vice versa.  And bad reviews really stink, they make your stomach upset!  Luckily we don’t get too many of them.   We’re lucky I guess because Giuseppe not only cooks great but he rules the roost in the kitchen and I handle the customers, so it works out pretty well.

Despite all this I hear that “Joanne’s” is doing well.   I guess It wouldn’t hurt it if Madonna or Jay-Z started hanging out at Rosies…   If you know them make sure to bring them by OK?

Now serving… Burrata Cheese.

Hi everyone, hope everyone is enjoying the fall season.  I was recently encouraged to blog about one of the items on our menu that is getting a lot of attention, namely the home-made Burrata cheese appetizer that we serve as a special.  If you haven’t tried this yet and you like fresh mozzarella with a bit of smokey flavor, this may just be your cheese soulmate.

Rosies Stuffed Mozzarella Cheese AppetizerBurrata is actually a derivative of mozzarella cheese, it is essentially a fresh buffala mozzarella filled with a gooey, creamy cheese center.  Burrata in Italian literally means “buttered”, and that’s the best description for its texture.

The Burrata starts with a regular buffala mozzarella that we make at the restaurant.  While the Mozzarella is still soft it is made into a flat circle, kind of like pizza dough.  The stuffing is created by taking the warm mozzarella curd and mixing it with fresh cream then pulling it into an elastic curd with the consistency of rigotta.  This creates a stuffing of thick but spreadable strings of cream, with a slightly sour finish.  Also note that buffalo milk is richer and higher in butterfat than cow milk which doesn’t hurt when it comes to taste.

The combination when eaten together is really killer.  Because this has to be eaten fresh (within 48 hours of making it) we can’t always offer it but if you see it on our specials menu, I highly recommend you give it a try.

The Festival of San Gennaro

San Gennaro Festival New YorkHey everybody, I know I talk about our restaurant a lot but believe it or not there is occasionally someplace else you can go to have some Italian Style fun.   This weekend is the last weekend of the San Gennaro Festival in New York city, in Little Italy.   If you’ve never been it’s really quite a lot of fun, a great outing for kids, and a great chance to experience all things Italian.

The festival of San Gennaro is actually a major Neapolitan Holiday.  They are literally celebrating Saint Gennaro, the patron saint of Naples.    Little Italy gets completely decked out for this; they have parades with rich and colorful costumes, Italian music everywhere, and street vendors selling all kinds of gifts and Italian Food.   The smells floating around Little Italy this time of year are amazing, bring your appetite.  

It’s easy to fill up on the rice balls, sausages, Zeppoli’s, and pastries they are selling in the street but if you want a nice meal, save room for one of the sit down restaurants.   Angelo’s is personal favorite of mine, or Puglia’s with its cafeteria table seating and the Opera singer who wanders around the restaurant.   And of course you’ve got to go to Ferrara’s for dessert, and an espresso.

And just in case you don’t want to make the trip into New York,  we’ve captured a bit of the San Gennaro tradition right here at Rosie’s.  We always feature our fresh homemade Zeppoli’s this time of year, as well as our famous rice balls.    We don’t have the parade yet, but we’re working on it….(-: